True Facts : Ant Mutualism

True Facts : Ant Mutualism

– Near the not-so-fluffy
carpet of the forest floor, one of the most remarkable farmers in nature is busy at work. The leaf cutter ant carefully
dissects living leaves weighing up to twenty
times its body weight. He will join his fellow ants in the long march back to his hidey-hole. Good job, Terrance, that is a good leaf. Milo, Angie, well done. Good, Katie. David, come back, David, that’s poop. This caravan of leaf cutter
ants is truly a spectacle. From the tree’s perspective, though, imagine being you standing still while ants walk by carrying
little tips of human fingers and perhaps a snippet of nipple or some foreskin or a piece of upper lip. From that perspective,
it’s expletive horrifying. David, I’m serious, that is actually poop. Of course, the question remains, what the farmer’s mother do
they need all those leaves for? Are they assembling a perfect replica of the forest underground? Perhaps the Earth is a
giant pinata being stuffed. Or perhaps the ants are just playing a large game of Leafy
Leafy, Who’s an expletive. It turns out that the
leaves are transported back to their little hidey-holes, down into the ground to fungus chambers, which is a good name
for a band, by the way. There, the leaves are processed to become food for fungi of the family Lepiotaceae. They have to be picky, though. Not all fungi can be harvested. Some fungus, like Cordyceps,
zombifies its’ host, causing the ant to climb to a high place and grab tight while the fungus sprouts a frickin’ spore from its’ head, which is crazy and a terrible, if slightly cool-looking way to die. Inside the leaf cutters nest, though, the processing to turn leaves
to fungus food is intensive. Worker ants of various sizes cut and puncture and pulverize the leafs, even discharging fecal liquids
to help break them down into suitable pieces
for their fungus farms. Finally, the resulting
fragments are gently locked into a network of fungal filaments. These fungus gardens then
produce nutritious and swollen hyphael tips that grow in
bundles called staphylae, which in turn feed the
ants and their young. This incredibly complex
relationship is the result of nearly 50 million
years of co-evolution. These fungi gave up the
ability to create spores and are utterly reliant
on the ants to survive. By comparison, 50 million years ago, the major social breakthrough
for our ancestors was learning how to
throw poop at each other and then laughing about it. It’s still funny. The leaf cutters are not alone
in their pursuit of farming. Other species of ants have developed a mutualistic relationship with aphids, sometimes referred to as ant cows; a name which neither cows
or aphids are fond of, but the ants like the name
because it’s kind of true. The ants protect the aphids
from predators and parasites and in some cases they will
look after the aphids’ eggs, feeding the young aphids
and even carry them to the best grazing area on the plant. If you fall asleep on
the job like this one, the aphid’s get feisty. Tappy, tappy, back to sleep. The aphids feed on the
sap of the host plant and excrete a lovely sugary
nectar referred to as honeydew. Aphids that aren’t ant cows will drop that honeydew away into the ground, which is generally a good rule of thumb for things that come
out of your expletive; however, aphids that are tended to by ants will concrete smaller droplets of honeydew and make them available
for the ants to eat. The ants often milk the
aphids by stroking their rears to stimulate the flow of
sugar-rich secretions. Put it together, man. The ants then suck up that
honeydew into their two stomachs; one for themselves and another
one to feed their friends through a process called trophallaxis, or reciprocal feeding. In summary, the ants eat aphid poop and puke it into their friends’ mouths. Listen, though, don’t judge. I would gladly secrete
a tiny little hamburger out of my bellybutton for you to eat. I could wear a half-shirt and a little fanny pack filled with napkins. That would be sharing like an ant, dude. The variations of mutualism that ants participate in are seemingly endless. A recent discovery, for example, involves a parasitic plant that lives inside of a tree and then creates these little knobby
things on the trees’ bark. Caterpillars eat these knobs, and ants protect the caterpillars, and once in a while the ants play patty-cake on the caterpillar’s tummy, and there’s a secretion,
people, and the ants eat it. There’s just a lot of secretion. I feel a bit insecure about
the value of my own secretions. Certainly nothing to write home about. Oh, but that would be a
very funny letter to write. Perhaps life is really just about finding a taker for what you are giving. David, look around you, no one is carrying anything
that even resembles poop. Except for you.


100 thoughts on “True Facts : Ant Mutualism”

  1. David is inventer
    He is trying to do something new..
    May be the next step of evolution is ants taking care of an animal for eating its poop

  2. Someone on bloody Pinterest of all places recommended this dolt. My gosh I’m belly laughin! It’s only one minute in!!! Bravo David!!!! 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  3. Zefrank1 im sooo into your show and your awesome catchphrase THATS HOW A ____ DO. Subscribed and ready for more and thats how a Paul Do.

  4. Great show, but evolution has been proven to be bs. Said charlie darwin himself, btw, so if ya disagree, ya better be smarter than the guy who invented it in the 1st place.

  5. Good friends: Hey Bobby, come over here and I’ll buy you a Big Mac meal along with a drink.
    Best friends: Hey Bobby, come over here and lemme throw up some McDonald burger oil into your mouth.

  6. 4:04 – 4:09
    "in summary, the ants eat aphid poop and puke it into friend's mouth"
    Just imagine their humans, thats totally disgusting 😂😂😂😂😂

  7. Imagine if ants were self aware. Nothing would be done and they would just be depressed and procrastinate all day.

  8. i love this channel, i do zoology and all the information is factual yet hilarious as well. Please never stop this keeps me going through the degree

  9. If the fungus is completely dependent upon the ants for survival and has also lost its ability to produce spores, does that mean each departing Queen needs to take a cutting of mycelium with her before departing the hive?

    Also, does this also mean that the fungus is genetically identical to the one which quit reproducing tens of thousands of years ago? (I.e. it could never have died, it's still the exact same fungus).

    And if this is true, could it be considered the oldest living organism on earth?

    This episode kind of blue my mind open.

  10. The non-fans of mutualism have certainly made no secret of their secretion envy.

    Picturing impacted digits angrily punching "dislike" as they gaze at the plenty on the caterpillar belly. Selah.

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